I am craving for one of my Mom’s recipes again. This time, it’s Ginasang Upo. Ginisa in Tagalog means “to sauté”. Upo is Bottle Gourd. I am now finding this vegetable in farmer’s markets but very rarely in the grocery stores. So, when I find one, I grab it.
If you are not that familiar with upo, I found a really great picture of it (on the vine). You can find out more about it in Maribehlla.com (It's the site where I got this picture from).
I think upo was my favorite vegetable when I was growing up. I really get excited when I saw it in my Mom's basket after a trip to Farmers Market. It has a very mellow flavor and easy on a young palate (ahem). I think what I like about this dish the most was upo combined with meat, so I could enjoy rice and veggie, then rice and meat. Repeat.
Although I had an idea on how to do this, I still searched the internet for a starter. The recipes were fairly similar, but I used the recipe on Panlasang Pinoy as a starter and “Maddified” it.
Most of the recipes that I found used tomatoes. Although that is the way I was taught how to sauté, I do not remember my Mom’s recipe using tomatoes. Also, most of the recipes that I found use ground pork, while I remember my Mom had slices of meat.
This dish would not be Maddified if did not use kale in it. I really did not intend to do that (really), but I had some left and thought I would use it to boost the nutritional value. Besides, one can never have enough veggies.
Also, a touch of fish sauce will give you that distinct taste and scent reminiscent of this dish. After I added that, I was immediately transported to Mom’s kitchen.
Try it and let me know what you think.
GInisang Upo (Sauteed Bottle Gourd) with Pork and Kale
- 2 cups of sliced upo (about 1 medium sized or two small ones)
- 1/4 lb sliced pork, seasoned with salt and pepper.
- 1-2 Tablespoon of minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
- 1/2 cup of sliced onions
- 1 cup of curly kale, sliced
- 2 Tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of fish oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the pan and pour the cooking oil
- Put the pork and cook about a minute or two per side.
- Add the garlic and onions and saute.
- Add the upo, cover the pan, and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce.
- Add the kale and cook until wilted.
- Serve hot with either rice or quinoa. Enjoy!
Love, love, love this recipe. It reminds me of Mom’s with a touch of me. It really reminds me of meals with my family when I was (a lot) younger.
A note on the fish sauce: Fish sauce is quite salty so you should watch the salt that you use for seasoning if you do use it. I'd say use just enough to season the pork and a bit to draw the moisture out of the garlic and onions. If you don't have fish sauce (or don't appreciate the smell/taste/thought of it), you can skip it... It just won't taste "authentic". Remember, use salt and fish sauce sparingly if you are watching our sodium intake.
Also, if you cannot find upo, you can substitute chayote squash. Chayote has a similar consistency to upo, but the flavor is different.
Another Maddification of this recipe is serving it with something other than white (or brown) rice. My grain bank did not have rice at the time so I served it with quinoa. Although quinoa added to the protein and fiber content of the dish, it did change the flavor a bit. If you want the traditional flavor, serve it with rice. That’s also a gluten-free option.
Maddification…. I like that.
P.S. Another recipe that I use upo is on my Corn-Chayote Tacos. I substitute Upo for chayote and produces a completely different taste. BTW, that taco recipe is one of my favorites for Meatless Monday.
P.P.S. If you're curious about THE Farmers Market in the Philippines, I found an excellent blog post in Market Manila. It's not like the farmers markets in the US, but more like a wet market typical of the Philippines.